U.S. track star Sha’carri Richardson will appear at Eugene Diamond League (otherwise known as the Prefontaine Classic) this weekend after her 30-day USATF suspension for marijuana use. The suspension shocked the world this summer, since it stopped her from competing in Tokyo. The women’s 100m will be the event all track fans have their eyes on, with Richardson going up against the three women who stood on the 100m podium at the Olympics that she missed.
Either Elaine Thompson-Herah or Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce (both of them from Jamaica) have won gold in the last four Olympic Games over the 100m. This was the second time in history that the Jamaicans swept the Olympic podium, as Shericka Jackson (also of Jamaica) came in third behind Fraser-Pryce and Thompson-Herah.
Here’s where things get interesting for track fans, as Richardson, who ran her PB of 10.72 earlier this season, was only 0.10 seconds off Thompson-Herah’s gold medal-winning time of 10.61 in Tokyo. Richardson’s personal best would have earned her a silver medal in Tokyo.
Richardson’s only elite-level competition so far has come at the Diamond League meet earlier this season in Gateshead, U.K., where she finished second to British sprinter Dina Asher-Smith, in poor weather. At this meet, Richardson managed to finish ahead of Fraser-Pryce (who won silver in Tokyo), but Saturday’s race in Eugene will mark Richardson’s first time lining up against Thompson-Herah.
The men’s 100m features eight men who have run under 9.90. Canada’s Andre De Grasse and Olympic silver medallist Fred Kerley will be the favourites in a star-studded field that was supposed to feature Lamont Marcell Jacobs, until he pulled out last week, citing fatigue. Another storyline from this race is, can Trayvon Bromell and Michael Norman bounce back after their sub-par showings in Tokyo? Norman was the favourite to win the men’s 400m but ended up finishing fifth, and Bromell didn’t even qualify for the 100m final after running the world-leading time earlier on in the season. The Eugene 100m field rounds out with the defending world champion Justin Gatlin (who failed to qualify for the Olympics) and African area record holder Akani Simbine.
In the men’s 200m, Canada’s Aaron Brown will be in the field after finishing sixth in Tokyo, going up against U.S. silver and bronze medallists Kenny Bednarek and Noah Lyles. 400m hurdles silver medallist Rai Benjamin will compete in what will be his first 200m race of 2021.
It will be a loaded women’s 1,500m race in Eugene, with Faith Kipyegon and Laura Muir, who both denied Sifan Hassan her quest for triple gold. Canada’s Gabriela DeBues-Stafford will look to continue her impressive results and dip below 3:58.00 for the first time this season.
Mohammed Ahmed will be representing the red and white in the prestigious Bowerman Mile. Ahmed will be against tough competition with the Tokyo and Rio 1,500m champions in the field (Jakob Ingebrigtsen and Matt Centrowitz). Centrowitz claims he is going for Alan Webb’s American mile record of 3:46.91 after he faced disappointment in not making the final in Tokyo. Ingebrigtsen has been spectacular, breaking the Olympic record in his gold medal-winning 1,500m race in a time of 3:28.32. Timothy Cheruiyot will also be in the field and loves a quickly-paced race; he will be the favourite for the premier men’s event.
In the women’s 5,000m, Hassan is determined to go after Letesenbet Gidey’s 5,000m world record of 14:06.62, which she set in 2020. Hassan, who won the 5,000m at the Olympics, has a personal best of 14:22.12. Her time is currently way off the world record pace of 2:46/km. Hassan will have to alter her back-of-the-pack race tactics to achieve that world-record time. Canada’s Andrea Seccafien will also be in the field, chasing the 5,000m standard time for the 2022 World Championships of 15:10.
Marco Arop of Edmonton, Alta. will look to get redemption after falling short of an 800m finals berth in Tokyo. He will be up against the Kenyan contingent of Ferguson Rotich and Emmanuel Korir, who went one and two at the Games. Clayton Murphy of the U.S. will be in a similar situation as Arop after finishing dead last in the Olympic final.
Women’s 3,000m steeplechase
Women’s 3,000m steeple will feature two Canadian Olympians, Regan Yee and Alycia Butterworth. Both competed in this event at the Olympic Games but did not advance to the final. Emma Coburn of the U.S. was supposed to be on the start-line but pulled out of the Pre Classic last night due to fatigue.
Charles Philibert-Thiboutot will look to continue his run stellar results in the Pre Classic International Mile. He set his personal best in the mile of 3:52.97 last week at the Falmouth Road Races, making him the fourth-fastest Canadian miler of all time. Philibert-Thiboutot has the second-fastest mile time in the field going into Sunday’s race behind American Craig Engels 3:51.60.
This weekend will mark Canada’s Sage Watson’s first return to competition since missing the Olympic final in the 400m hurdles. She will be in a fierce race against the second-fastest hurdler of all time, Dalilah Muhammad, who won silver in Tokyo.
You can catch live Diamond League track and field coverage of the Prefontaine Classic on Saturday at 4 p.m. E.T. with a RunnerSpace-Plus account, or on CBC. For the full event schedule for the Prefontaine Classic, click here.